Panjim, the capital city of India’s sunshine state Goa, is a very beautiful city that receives visits from thousands of tourists and locals every day. The city is best known for Fontainhas, a neighbourhood of brightly painted Portuguese-style residences, located at the foot of the Altinho hill. This is where the city’s hostels, hipsters cafes, art galleries and heritage eateries are located. The gastronomy scene in Panjim is exciting with renowned restaurants like Mum’s Kitchen, Horse Shoe, Black Sheep Bistro, and Black Market catering to discerning food lovers who come from places near and far.
Many of the old cafes in Panjim have catered to the hunger cravings of the residents of this city since the Portuguese era. A few of these cafés have undergone a lot of renovation over the years but have continued to maintain the same great quality of food and service they offer.
In this article, we take a look at the 5 oldest cafes in Panjim.
First on our list of the oldest cafes in Panjim is Cafe Tato. This cafe was founded in 1913 by Keshav Govind Dhuri, who hails from the village of Nerul in North Goa. It used to serve tea and Bhajias, and later Bhaji-puri, Bhaji-Pao, bakri and kela halua. Situated near the Municipal Garden at Altinho in the heart of Panjim city, it is the oldest of the surviving cafés in Panjim today. Keshav’s son Govind Dhuri took care of the cafe for 50 years before passing the reins of the business to his four sons – Pradip, Dinesh, Sunil and Sadanand. The fourth generation Pranav, Ankeet, and Saurabh have now also joined in to take the legacy forward.
The café serves popular Goan and Indian snacks. It is known for its delicious bhaji-puri. Their sukhi bhaji and patal bhaji, served with puri is a very popular dish that must be tried when visiting the café. They also serve delicious veg samosas and veg cutlets. The café has undergone a lot of renovation over the years and now sports a very modern look.
Casa Bhonsle, Panjim
Next on our list of the oldest cafes in Panjim city is Café Bhonsle. This café was established in 1920 by Rama Bhonsle. It is situated on the historic Cunha Rivara Road, near the National Theatre, in the heart of Panjim city. The café is run today by Rama’s grandsons. It is a vegetarian café that has been around for a long time, and is still one of the most popular eateries in Panjim.
Apart from the snacky preparations like samosas and poori bhaji that it was known for earlier, it also serves lunch and dinner. They also offer a delicious veg thali, that is served with poori/roti and rice. They also offer North Indian veggie delights like jalfrezi, Kadai paneer, malai kofta and vegetable biryani. They also have a limited Chinese menu, that features items like Gobi Manchurian and Baby corn chilli.
Mr. Baker 1922
Mr. Baker 1922 is a nice little family-run café, located opposite the beautiful Garcia de Orta garden, in the heart of Panjim city. As the name suggests, it was established in the year 1922. The place has a vintage Portuguese-style ambience, but is very clean and has a lovely vibe. It is managed by some elderly people, who are very warm and friendly. The café offers the best local Goan sweets and savouries, along with other quick-bites like pies, pastries, and drinks. The savoury egg puffs available here are simply too good, and you cannot leave this place without trying the local delicacy ‘Bebinca’. It tastes different from the ones you get all over Goa. Their freshly baked cakes are also worth trying. Overall a nice quiet place to have a quick bite and a cup of coffee or tea when in Panjim.
Café Aram is situated opposite the Urban Health Centre on 18th June road in Panjim city. It started operating in 1945 and was known as Café Remanso during the Portuguese era. The café serves reasonably priced Goan fare, light snacks, as well as drinks like tea, coffee, lassi, falooda etc. The place is always full of people, mostly locals, who come to have snacks and tea.
They have some unusual snacks like mushroom samosa and pattice, but their forte lies in the regular Goan fare they serve. Must-tries at this café include Mirchi bhaji, chana masala, sukhi bhaji, and Makhan pedha. They also serve refreshing lime soda over here.
And last on our list of the oldest cafes in Panjim is Café Real. This café, which is situated opposite Azad Maidan in the heart of Panjim, was established in 1946 by Gajanan Shirodkar.
It is one of the most popular cafes in Panjim even today. It is famous for its evening snacks like samosa, sukhi bhaji, and usal bhaji. In addition to an established local clientele, you will always see a few tourists floating around at this café. During rush hours, expect to wait for a couple of minutes to get a place to sit.
The café, which has acquired a classy reputation since the Portuguese era, has undergone a lot of renovation over the years. Today, it is a compact air-conditioned place, where Panjimites take pride in having their evening snacks and tea. Their aloo bhaji (popularly called “patal bhaji”) served with the native Portuguese bread “pao”, is their speciality. The restaurant also serves the typical Goan dish “alasande tonak” and Kanda bhajjias, which are very delicious.
With this, we conclude our list of the oldest cafes in the beautiful city of Panjim. So if you happen to visit Panjim and want to take a break to re-fuel yourself with some tea and delicious snacks, head down to one of these amazing heritage cafes and have a nice time munching on some mouth-watering goodies and refreshing drinks. Bon Appetit!